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Abstract algebra/Groups 1

Abstract algebra/Groups
A group is a set with a number of special properties. Groups are useful in studying many
different areas of mathematics.
Many sets we encounter in mathematics have some kind of structure when we associate it
with an operation. For example, the integers have a lot of properties when we associate it
with multiplication, or with addition.
Group theory is the study of groups, their structure, and their nature.

Definitions and notations

A group is a set, say , and a binary operation which we call , satisfying the following
• closure under : If , are in , then is also in . This means that if we have
two elements from , and is not in , can't be a group.
• associativity of : If , , are elements of , , as we have
for addition and multiplication but not subtraction of natural numbers.
• existence of an identity element: There is an element in , which we write , such that
for any in , . We call the identity, which we sometimes also
notate , , or .
• existence of inverses: For any in , there exists some element in , such that
. We usually write as .
Any set with a binary operator that satisfies these four properties is a group. Technically, a
group is a set and an operation, which can be written as an ordered pair , although it
is common practice to speak of the group as the set . It is important to note, however,
that one set can form two different groups under different operations.
Note that the identity is unique, for if e and e' are identities, then e=ee'=e'.

We shall call the group additive if the operation is a kind of addition. In this case, it is
standard to denote the operation by , the identity by , and the inverse of in by
. We shall call the group multiplicative if the operation is a kind of multiplication. In
this case we often use or a dot to denote the operation and write as for brevity.
We often denote the identity by or , and the inverse of in by .
Note that in our group axioms above we don't assume commutativity (which means that if
we have any and , ), a property we're used to having when doing algebra
on the real numbers. This property holds in some groups, but not others; if it holds for a
particular group, we call that group abelian in honor of the mathematician Niels Abel. It is
a convention that one only speaks of an additive group when the group is abelian (this is
because there are plenty of common examples of non-commutative multiplication such as
matrix multiplication, but none of addition).

We call the number of elements in the set (that is, the cardinality of ) the order of the
group, and we denote it (also or even , though we will use ). Groups
can have finite or infinite order, and we call them finite and infinite groups respectively.
Additionally, the order of an element a within G is the first natural number n such that is
Abstract algebra/Groups 2

the identity. If no such n exists, then it is considered of infinite order, and all powers of a
are different.

Let us look at some simple finite groups to see how these rules apply, and then look at
cases of some infinite groups.

Z2={0,1} (see group table) is the set
of remainders when dividing integers
by 2. There are only two such
possible remainders, 0 and 1. So in
Z2, we have two elements {0,1}. This
set is called the set of integers
modulo 2. Note that an integer is
equal to its remainder modulo 2. For
example, 9=1 modulo 2 because This picture illustrates how the hours on a clock form a group
when you divide 9 by 2 you end up under modular addition.

with a remainder of 1. Let's denote

the operation of addition modulo 2 by "+", defined as the usual addition of integers. So is
(Z2,+) a group?

Let us go through the requirements:

• Closure: Can be verified quickly by going through all possible cases: 0+0=0, 0+1=1,
1+0=1, 1+1=0. Thus closure holds.
• Associativity: a+(b+c)=(a+b)+c (a proof by going through all possible cases is not
difficult, you should check for yourself). Associativity holds.
• Identity: 0+0=0, 1+0=1, 0+1=1, so 0 is the identity element. Thus an identity exists,
and is in fact 0.
• Inverses: 1+1=2=0 modulo 2, so 1 is the inverse of 1. 0+0=0, so 0 is the inverse of 0.
Since 0 and 1 are the only elements, every element thus has an inverse. Thus inverses
We have shown that each property of groups is satisfied. So (Z2,+) is a group. Moreover,
each element is its own inverse, and the identity is 0.
In the same way it can be shown that Zm={0,1,...m-1}, the set of remainders when dividing
integers by m is also a group. The operation is addition modulo m.

( (Z5)*, × )
In (Z5)*, (see group table) which means Z5 without zero, we have {1,2,3,4}. These are just
the elements of Z5 with multiplicative inverses (see Number theory). Take × to be regular
multiplication modulo 5.
Again, let us go through the requirements:
• Closure: Can be verified quickly by inspection: e.g. 3×4=12=2 modulo 5. The remaining
cases can be easily done as well. Thus closure holds.
Abstract algebra/Groups 3

• Associativity: a×(b×c)=(a×b)×c (again, a proof by cases is not difficult). Associativity

• Identity: 1×1=1, 1×2=2, 1×3=3, 1×4=4. So 1 is the identity element for multiplication.
Thus an identity exists.
• Inverses: 1×1=1, so 1 is the inverse of 1. 2×3=6=1 modulo 5, so 2 and 3 are inverses of
each other. And 4×4=16=1 modulo 5, so 4 is its own inverse. Thus inverses exist.
Therefore ((Z5)*, ×) is a group.

Z5={0,1,2,3,4} is the additive group of integers modulo 5 and (Z5)*={1,2,3,4} is the
multiplicative group of integers modulo 5. The multiplicative group is just the additive
group without 0. The reason for this is because to form a group we need each element to
have an inverse. But 0 does not have a multiplicative inverse (that is, there is no integer a
such that 0×a=a×0=1), thus we exclude it to form the multiplicative group.

(Z, +)
The integers form a group with the operation of addition +. Again, to show this, we must
simply check that the four group axioms above, are satisfied.
• Closure: We require that if a and b are integers, then a+b is an integer. But this is true
by definition. Closure holds.
• Associativity: We require that if a, b and c are integers, then (a+b)+c=a+(b+c). But
again, we know this is true from normal addition. Thus associativity holds.
• Identity: 0 is the identity since 0+a=a+0=a for any integer a. Thus an identity exists.
• Inverses: a has inverse -a, for -a+a=a+-a=0 for any integer a. Thus inverses exist.
So (Z,+) is a group.

(Q, ×)
Q is the set of all rational numbers; that is numbers that can be formed as the ratio of two
integers, .
(Q, ×) is not a group. The closure, associative and identity axioms hold, but since 0 ∈ Q, the
inverse of 0 would have to be 1/0 which has no meaning; 0 does not have an inverse, so (Q,
×) is not a group. If we instead take Q and remove 0, we do get a group.
However it is a kind of object known as a monoid, which is basically a "group without
inverses". There are several other types of objects like this (e.g. "groupoids" and
"semigroups",) obeying some of the group properties but not others. We won't cover them
in this section, though.

Groups can be more than just abstractions of numbers. Let us consider permutations: a
permutation is a rearrangement of some symbols, so that these symbols are in a different
order. So, for example, a permutation of (a, b, c) could be (b, c, a). We've rearranged (a, b,
c) so a is last. For the moment, let's write a permutation of (a, b, c) by using an arrow, so
the above permutation can be written as (a, b, c) → (b, c, a). We could even give this
permutation a name, so, we could say that (a, b, c) → (b, c, a) is a permutation p.
Abstract algebra/Groups 4

The set of permutations with three elements forms a group. If we take * to be our
operation, then let x*y mean "do y, and then do x" on the order of the three elements.
For example, if we let:
x represent (a, b, c) → (c, b, a), and
y represent (a, b, c) → (a, c, b), then we have:
x*y first turns (a, b, c) into (a, c, b) (remember we do y first),
and then turns that into (b, c, a).
Note: The reason we do y first instead of x may seem strange, but that is because this
operation is based on the composition of functions.
• closure: All rearrangements of three symbols are also rearrangements; something like
(a,b,c) → (a,a,b) can not happen.
• associativity: This can be verified by inspection.
• identity: (a,b,c) → (a,b,c).
• inverses: This can be verified by inspection. If we permute something, we can obviously
undo what we did to get what we started with. If we flip the first two elements around,
we can just flip them again to undo what we did.
The group of all permutations on n objects, ie., {1,...,n}, is an important group. It is called
the symmetric group and is written Sn, and has order n! (n factorial). We can extend this to
permutations of any set S - in this case we write Sym(S).
Notice: This is a perfect example of a group that is not abelian. See from the example
above that:

whereas, . (Try verifying this on your

own.)This is generally true of most permutations.

With other concepts in mathematics, there is often a structure like a Russian doll.
If we open the doll, there is often an
identical but smaller doll inside. If we
open that doll, there's another
smaller doll inside, and so on.
This sort of Russian-doll-like
behaviour pervades things like vector
spaces, fields, and so on. Inside some
vector space could be another
smaller vector space, and so on. We Nesting Russian Dolls

have this same property occurring

with groups. Inside groups could be other, smaller groups.

A subgroup is a subset of a group which is also a group. To prove that a subgroup is a
group, we need to only check for
• closure
• identity existence
• inverse existence
Abstract algebra/Groups 5

We do not need to check for associativity because this is "given" to us by the larger group.
If the group is finite, then we do not need to check for the third one because if the order of
an element in the subgroup is n, then is its inverse.
It's clear that a set containing only the identity ({e}, *) will always be a subgroup. In the
above example with Z2, ({0}, +) is a subgroup. The subgroup containing just the identity is
known as the trivial subgroup.
For example, the even numbers under addition form a subgroup of the integers under
addition. But, the odd numbers do not (since 1+1=2, which is not odd, so closure is
violated, and 0 is not odd, so they have no identity).

Problem set
Given the above rules, answer the following (Answers follow to even-numbered questions).
1. Is Z2 a subgroup of Z under addition?
2. Is (Z2, ×) a group? (× representing multiplication modulo 2). What about (Z2*, ×)?
3. Identify all subgroups of Z3
4. Identify one subgroup of (Z, +)
5. Prove that permutations of three elements are associative and have inverses. (Hint:
write out all valid permutations)
6. Find a nontrivial subgroup of the permutations of three elements.
7. Is Z2 a subgroup of Z5 with addition modulo 5?
8. Let S be a subset of the group G. We define the set generated by S, denoted <S>, to be
the set of all finite products x0x1x2...xn with either xi or xi-1 ∈ S for each i, 0<i>n. Show
that <S> is a subgroup of G.
Terminology and the "syntax" of formula can be confusing. Try converting the following
group formulas from "additive" notation into "multiplictive" notation. Assume a,b,c∈G,
but do not assume the group is abelian even though we are using the additive notation!
9. a + b - c
10. 2b + c
11. a + b - a
12. a - a = 0
13. if a + b = 0, then b = -a
Now try converting these "multiplicitive" formula in "function composition" syntax.
Ideally you can translate into both a ° b or a(b(x)) from ab.
14. a × b × c-1 = 1
15. aba-1 ∈ H

2. Z2 is not, because 0 has no multiplicative inverse. Z2* is.
4. The even integers are a subgroup of (Z, +)
6. {(a,b,c)→(a,b,c), (a,b,c)→(c,b,a)}
8. We need to check three properties to ensure that H=<S> is a subgroup.
• Closure: Since the elements in H are finite sequences of elements of S or their inverses
multiplied by each other, for two elements of H, we can take the two sequences of S and
concatenate them to get another sequence of elements in S, which yields another
element of H.
Abstract algebra/Groups 6

• Identity: Since for any element x in S, both x and x-1 are in H, by closure, so is x * x-1 =
1, the identity.
• Inverses: This is given in the definition of H.
Then H is a subgroup of G.
10. b2 × c or b2c
12. a × a-1 = 1 or aa-1 = 1 or even a ÷ a = 1. Notice how the "identity" element
changed names.
14. a ° b ° c-1 = I, where I is the identity function I(x) ≡ x, for all x. or
a(b(c-1(x))) = x

Problems without answers

Here are some proof-style questions, for you to try. There are no answers here, since there
may be more than one way to answer the following questions.
1. Consider a finite group G. Show that for all x ∈ G there exists an integer n such that
xn=e. The smallest positive integer that satisfies this condition is called the order of the
element x; we denote the order with |x| here.
2. Let a ∈ G. Prove that if a*b =e, then b*a = e. That is, any right inverse is a left inverse.
3. Prove that the identity is unique.
4. Prove that the inverse of an element is unique.
5. Let a ∈ G. Prove that (a-1)-1 = a.
6. (hard) Let G be a finite abelian group. Prove that there exists x0,x1,x2,...,xk such that
x0a0x1a1x2a2...xkak uniquely generates the elements of G for 0 ≤ am ≤ |xm| for 0 ≤ m ≤ k.

A coset is related to the idea of a subgroup. Say we have a subgroup H of a group G. If we
take an element g ∈ G, and we form the set {g*h|h ∈ H}, we obtain what is known as a left
coset of H and we write this gH. Since commutativity is not assured, we also have a right
coset of H which is {h*g|h ∈H} and is written Hg.

Let's look at (Z4,+), where + represents addition modulo 4. Z4 contains {0,1,2,3}, and, a
subgroup of Z4 is {0, 2}.
Now, from our definition, we can find the left cosets of Z4. We have {g+h|h ∈ H}, with g
some element in G.
Let's first take 0 ∈ G. Then the first coset we will encounter is {0+h|h ∈ H}={0, 2}.
Take 1 ∈ G, so {1+h|h ∈ G} and we obtain {1, 3}.
Take 2 ∈ G and we obtain {2, 0}={0, 2}.
Finally, take 3 ∈ G and we get the final coset {1, 3} again.
Abstract algebra/Groups 7

In (Z12,+) ("clock arithmetic") there are several subgroups to choose from, and so there are
many cosets collections to examine. Our group G is Z12 = {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11}; lets look at H6, H4, H3, and H2
Cosets of H6

H6 = { 0 , 6 }

1→ { 1 , 7 }

2→ { 2 , 8 }

3→ { 3 , 9 }

4→ { 4 , 10 }

5→ { 5 , 11 }

Cosets of H4

H4 = { 0 , 4 , 8 }

1→ { 1 , 5 , 9 }

2→ { 2 , 6 , 10 }

3→ { 3 , 7 , 11 }

Cosets of H3

H3 = { 0 , 3 , 6 , 9 }

1→ { 1 , 4 , 7 , 10 }

2→ { 2 , 5 , 8 , 11 }

Cosets of H2

H3 = { 0 , 2 , 4 , 6 , 8 , 10 }

1→ { 1 , 3 , 5 , 7 , 9 , 11 }

Definition: The index of a subgroup H is the number of cosets it has within G. This is
sometimes written [G:H]

What can we surmise from the above? We can see that, if G is the group, H the subgroup,
• the cosets partition G; every element in G belongs to one and only one coset. Stated
differently, the cosets are either identical or disjoint. This means that the cosets we
obtain either must be equal (as above, {0, 2}, {2, 0} = {0, 2} are both the same set), or
they have no elements in common (as above, {1, 3} and {0, 2} have no elements in
• x and y are in the same coset iff x-1y ∈ H - because of this being an equivalence relation,
we have the partition fact above.
• the size of gH is equal to that of H because h → gh is a bijection, and if there is a bijection
between two sets, then the sets must be of the same size.
Abstract algebra/Groups 8

Lagrange's theorem and cosets

Cosets are used to prove an interesting result known as Lagrange's theorem, and tells us
how the sizes of subgroups relate to the size of the larger group. To use our Russian-doll
analogy, it tells us how small all the dolls inside are going to be.
Firstly, Lagrange's theorem tells us:
If G is a group and H is a subgroup, then the |G|=[G:H]|H|
As a consequence of this, we can use Lagrange's theorem to obtain the number of cosets a
group has when the group is finite
If G is a group, H a subgroup, there are |G|/|H| cosets
We write the number of cosets of H in G as (G:H).
Why is this true? Remember that the cosets of a group partition it; every element in the
group is in one and only one of the cosets - if we take the union of all the cosets, we will
obtain the original group. Clearly the number of elements in all the cosets will be the same;
recall from our definition that {g*h|h∈H} gives us a coset, we are multiplying all elements
of H by g.
So if we have |H| elements in a coset, and we have n cosets (and since we can't have a
fraction of a coset) |H| must divide |G|.

Special groups
In your study of group theory, you may come across many groups over and over again. They
may be in fact quite special groups, and we will look at some of these groups in this section.

Normal subgroups, semidirect product, and quotient groups

Consider the group (Z, +) and the subset of Z consisting of multiples of n, which is a
subgroup of (Z,+) which we can write (n Z, +). Both these groups are abelian, since
addition normally is commutative. If one considers this group and its cosets, one has the
group Z/n Z of integers modulo n - this is just Zn.
More generally, for any abelian group G and subgroup H, one can construct such a group
above, which we call the quotient group of G by H as follows. If we define two elements of G
to be equivalent if their difference lies in H i. e. they belong to the same coset. Since the
cosets partition the group G, it is obviously an equivalence relation.
Now let us define the semidirect product of two subsets of G, H and K, HK, to be simply all
elements hk where h is in H and k is in K. We use the following result to establish the fact
that HK is a group:
Theorem: Let H and K be subgroups of G. The HK is a subgroup if and only if HK=KH, and
HK is the group generated by the union of H and K.

Proof: Since HK is a subgroup, the group of its inverses must be the same. Since
since both H and K are groups. Thus, HK=KH.
Conversely, let HK=KH. Then the set of the inverses , so
it contains all inverses. Also, it is closed, because (HK)(HK)=H(KH)K=(HH)(KK)=HK. The
subgroup HK must contain both H and K, so it is the group generated by its union.
Now consider the cosets gH and g'H. Is the product of the two cosets gH and g'H the same
as (gg')H? Not always, but it is possible to prove that this is the case with a single
Abstract algebra/Groups 9

Theorem: Let H be a subgroup of G. Then the product of the two cosets (gH)(g'H) is the
same as the coset (gg')H if and only if for all a within G.

Proof: Suppose that for all a within G. Then (gH)(g'H)=

. Conversely, suppose that (gH)(g'H)=(gg')H. Then
must be a subset of since H contains the identity. This, of course, is the
same as =H implying that is a subset of H. This also means that H is a
subset of , and replacing a with , we get that H is a subset of , implying
that is the same as H.
If g is an arbitrary element of G and H is an arbitrary subgroup then the following
statements are equivalent, and if they hold, then H is called a normal subgroup.
1. gHg-1=H
2. gHg-1⊂H
3. gH = Hg
4. Every left coset is a right coset.
5. Every right coset is a left coset.
Note that any subgroup of an abelian group is normal. This is easy to see - take gH and Hg
(again, with H a subgroup of G). If we write H={h0=e, h1, ..., hn}, then gH = {gh0=e, gh1,
..., ghn}, but, since we have that G is abelian, we can write {h0g=e, h1g, ..., hng} which is
just Hg.
Note that 3. does not imply that g commutes with every element of H, but only with the set
Now we can construct the quotient group. Let H be a normal subgroup of G. Then take the
left (or right - it doesn't matter) cosets of H. Then define
Note that this is well-defined because this group operation is essentially the set product, so
that if a' and b' are within aH and bH, then a'H and b'H are the same cosets, so that
(a'b')H=(a'H)(b'H) is the same as the product of aH and bH.
Now we prove that the set of cosets under this operation is a group. First, it is obviously
closed since, as we proved earlier, the product of two cosets is itself a coset. Associativity in
this set follows from the associativity in the group, since (aH)(bH)=(ab)H. The identity
element is 1H=H, which is the subgroup H itself. The inverse of aH is .
This group of cosets of H within G is called the quotient group and is denoted G/H.

Consider the group of permutations on three elements. For simplicity, write (2,3,1) for the
permutation (1,2,3)→(2,3,1). Then, if we take N to be the normal subgroup { (1,2,3), (2,3,1),
(3,1,2) }, this group commutes with each of the elements of S3. Consider each element s of
• s = (1,2,3): sN = N = Ns
• s = (1,3,2): sN = { (1,3,2)(1,2,3), (1,3,2)(2,3,1), (1,3,2)(3,1,2) } = { (1,3,2), (2,1,3),
(3,2,1) } = { (1,3,2), (3,2,1), (2,1,3) } = { (1,2,3)(1,3,2), (2,3,1)(1,3,2), (3,1,2)(1,3,2) } =
• For other elements s ∈ S, sN gives on of the two cosets above. You can check this for
Abstract algebra/Groups 10

Notice that (1,3,2) does not commute with two of the elements of N, but it does commute
with the subgroup N itself.

Cyclic groups
Let's look at the group (Z5, +). This is a group under addition. Let's look at one specific
element in Z5: 2.
Observe, in Z5:
2 = 2 (of course)
2+2 = 4
2+2+2 = 6 = 1
2+2+2+2 = 8 = 3
2+2+2+2+2 = 10 = 0
On repeated addition of 2 to itself, we see that doing this has generated the entire set Z5!
For this reason, we call this element a generator (There may be a case where one element
may not generate the entire set, but a subset of the original group may do it, in this case we
call that set a generating set).
As stated before, regardless of whether the group operation is addition or multiplication,
we write the application of the group operation n times to some element a, an, so if we want
to represent 2+2+2+2 in Z5, we often just write 24.
A group which has the property that one element generates the group is known as a cyclic


(Z,+ )
In the group (Z,+) of integers under addition, every element x can be written in the form
where n = x. This means that 1 is a generator for the group.

One interesting property to note is that all cyclic groups are abelian, since for any x = ga, y
= gb ∈ G:

1. Verify that 1, 3, and 4 are also generators for (Z5, +).
2. Let G be of order n, and let it be generated by a. Then prove that the following are

1. The order of is n.
2. n and x are coprime.
3. There is a number y such that xy is congruent to 1 mod n.
Abstract algebra/Groups 11

The symmetric group

We have already come into contact with the symmetric group before, so let's refresh our
memory: the symmetric group of n elements is the group of all the permutations of n
objects. We can also speak about the symmetric group of a set J, where the permutations
are of the elements of J.
If we are referring to the symmetric group of n elements, we write Sn, and of the set J, we
write Sym(J).
The order of Sn is n!. As such, the number of elements in Sn grows very fast as n does.

The alternating group

A special case of the symmetric group is the alternating group.
For now, let's just take it as a given that for any finite sequence of objects, the composition
of any odd number of transpositions would not give the identity permutation. We'll get back
to the proof of this statement later.
Firstly, if we have some permutation of objects and we wish to get it back to the identity
permutation of objects (back in order), we can continually swap two objects until all the
objects are back in order. If we have to swap these an odd number of times, we call the
permutation an odd permutation, likewise, if we have to swap an even number of times, we
call the permutation an even permutation.
The group of even permutations only is a group as well, and we call it the alternating group
of n elements, and we write it An

The dihedral group

The dihedral group of order 2n is the group with generators R and F such that:

=I, =I, where I denotes the identity.

Here, we can consider R to be a rotation, and F to be a reflection. Intuitively, we can
consider the dihedral group to be the group of all symmetries of a regular polygon.

Group morphisms
So far we have only considered looking at how a set is related to its associated operation,
ie., how the group itself works. However, how can we examine the relationships between
two groups?
We look at the relationships between groups by considering special functions which take
elements from one group and map them to another. We call these functions a special name,
morphisms, and they come in different types:
• homomorphisms
• monomorphisms are injective or one-to-one homomorphisms.
• epimorphisms are surjective or onto homomorphisms.
• isomorphisms are bijective homomorphisms.
• endomorphisms are homomorphisms of a group to itself.
• automorphisms are isomorphisms of a group to itself.
(Isomorphisms and automorphisms are special cases of homomorphisms)
Examining morphisms allow us to make important analyses of the relationships between
groups. For example, two groups are essentially the same, if there is an isomorphism
Abstract algebra/Groups 12

between them. The relationship between a subgroup and the original group can be
characterised, in fact, by an injective homomorphism (see below).
All these morphisms have an important and essential property: they are said to "respect
group structure". We will see what this means below.

If we have two groups (G1, *), and (G2, o), a homomorphism is a mapping or a function f
from G1 to G2, and x, y being elements in G1, such that
f(x * y) = f(x) o f(y).
It's important to recognize that there are no restrictions on the mapping. This mapping
behaves exactly like a function: it can be injective - the homomorphism maps all elements in
G1 to a unique element of G2 (in this case the homomorphism is sometimes referred to as a
monomorphism, or, it can be surjective: the homomorphism maps some (or all) elements in
G1 to all elements in G2, (in this case the homomorphism is sometimes referred to as an
epimorphism), or even both, in which case it is a isomorphism.
Like in other areas of abstract algebra such as linear algebra (in which linear
transformations are just homomorphisms), we have the concept of the kernel also in group
theory. A homomorphism is a mapping of some elements in one group to another. The
kernel of this homomorphism is the collection of all the elements of a group that get
mapped to the identity of the other group.
So if we have the most trivial of homomorphisms, one that maps the whole group to
({0},+), the kernel would be the whole group. On the other end of the spectrum, the kernel
of a isomorphism consists of only the identity element. In fact, the converse to this is true.

An example
You have come across the group of permutations on three elements, and we have a
subgroup of this group, namely {(a,b,c)→(a,b,c), (a,b,c)→(c,b,a)} under the operation of
performing the first permutation followed by the second - denote it *. For convenience, we'll
write e=(a,b,c)→(a,b,c), and x=(a,b,c)→(c,b,a).
We've also come across the group Z2, {0, 1} under the operation of addition modulo 2.
Verify these two groups are in fact groups for practice, if you wish.
We'll define a mapping f such that e maps to 0, and x maps to 1. We can show that f is a
homomorphism simply by cases, since these groups are small. However when they are large
we can do this by algebra if f is suitably defined.
f(e*x)=f(e)+f(x)=0+1=1, f(e*x)=f(x)=1
f(x*e)=f(x)+f(e)=1+0=1, f(x*e)=f(x)=1
f(e*e)=f(e)+f(e)=0, f(e*e)=f(e)=0
f(x*x)=f(x)+f(x)=0, f(x*x)=f(e)=0
So f is thus a group homomorphism.
Abstract algebra/Groups 13

We call the elements of G1 that get mapped under f to the identity of G2 the kernel of f,
denoted Ker(f). What can we discover about this set?
Say a,b ∈ G1 and f(a) = f(b) = 1G2
, that is, a and b are in the kernel. Then f(a * b) = f(a) o f(b) = 1G2, so a * b is in the kernel
also. That is, the kernel is closed. Also, f(1G1) = f(1G1 * 1G1) = f(1G1) o f(1G1), so f(1G1) =
1G2. That is, the identity of G1 is in the kernel. One more thing is that 1G2 = f(1G1) = f(a *
a-1) = f(a) o f(a-1) = 1G2
o f(a-1) = f(a-1), i.e. the kernel has inverses. The kernel is closed, has the identity, and has
its elements' inverses. That means the kernel is a subgroup of G1.
Kernel is also a normal subgroup. Proof. Let b ∈ Ker(f) and a ∈ G. Now f(a * b * a-1) = f(a) o
f(b) o f(a-1) = f(a) o e o f(a-1) = f(a) o f(a)-1 = e, which means a * b * a-1 ∈ Ker(f) and thus it
is a normal subgroup.
So every homomorphism gives us a normal subgroup in G1. The converse is true also: every
normal subgroup N gives a homomorphism. The homomorphism is given by f(a) = aN = Na
for a ∈ G1 and aN ∈ G2. That is, the elements of G2 are the cosets of N. Try verifying that
this is a homomorphism by checking that f(a * b) = f(a) o f(b). G2 is called a quotient group
of G1, and this relationship is written G2 = G1/N. More on this later.
Then the homomorphisms from G1 are in one-to-one correspondence with the normal
subgroups of G1. Homomorphisms and normal subgroups are really two ways of looking at
the same thing.

An example
Kernels are also useful to characterise subgroups. Here's an example. Recall the
alternating group is the subgroup of Sn containing even permutations. In selecting the even
permutations, we have created a surjective homomorphism from Sn to (Z2,+). Even
permutations are mapped to the identity, 0, whilst odd permutations are mapped to 1.
The kernel then is all the even permutations of Sn.
Note this also indicates why we don't choose all the odd permutations, since it's more
natural to take the kernel instead.

When considering some class of mathematical objects, a logical question to ask is when two
objects are the same. For example, we often consider congruent triangles to be the same.
Note, however, that there is usually more than one way to define the relation of sameness.
For example, in a different context we might want to call all similar triangles the same. The
relation of sameness for groups is called isomorphism.
When working with sets, we consider two sets the same if they have the same cardinality -
that is, if one can be bijectively mapped to the other. Since groups are sets, for two groups
to be the same, they should be the same as sets, so for two groups G and G' to be
isomorphic,we require that there be a bijective mapping from G to G'. However, groups
have more structure than sets, so we should require that our notion of sameness preserve
that structure.
With that in mind, we define that two groups (G, *) and (G', o) are isomorphic if there exists
a bijection f: G → G' such that f(x * y) = f(x) o f(y). Such a bijection is called an isomorphism
Abstract algebra/Groups 14

from G to G'.
Any surjective homomorphism f whose kernel contains only the identity is an isomorphism.
To establish that this is true, we must prove that f is injective. Suppose that f(g) = f(h).
Then f(g*h-1) = f(g)*f(h-1) = f(g)*f(h)-1 = 1G2
=> g*h-1 = 1G1
=> g = h.

An example
Let's look at two small groups B=(Z2,+) and C=({1, -1}, ×), where + represents addition
modulo 2.
For clarity we represent the element "1" in B as 1B, and the element "1" in C as 1C. We can
create an isomorphism, by defining f to map 0 to 1C, 1B to -1.
We need to show f satisfies the defining properties of isomorphisms. Clearly f is bijective
since it is injective and surjective by inspection. It now only remains to show that f respects
the group structure and we have shown that B and C are isomorphic.
Recall to show f respects the group structure we need to show f(x+y)=f(x)×f(y). Since the
two groups again are relatively small, we can do this easily by cases, however when they
are large we can do this by algebra if f is suitably defined.
f(0+0)=f(0)×f(0)=1C×1C=1C, f(0+0)=f(0)=1C
f(0+1B)=f(0)×f(1B)=-1, f(0+1B)=f(1B)=-1
f(1B+0)=f(1B)×f(0)=-1×1C=-1, f(1B+0)=f(1B)=-1
f(1B+1B)=f(1B)×f(1B)=-1×-1=1C, f(1B+1B)=f(0)=1C
f isomorphism, so B and C are isomorphic.

Example where the two groups have the same set of elements
We'll look at our familiar friend (Z3\{0}, ×)
Normally, we have the multiplication table

Consider then the homomorphism f such that f(x)=2×x (modulo 3, naturally). Applying this
homomorphism we obtain the multiplication table:
Abstract algebra/Groups 15

Cayley's Theorem
Classically, only groups of permutations were considered. Our axiomatic approach clears
away irrelevancies, but it in fact does not give us a more general class of objects. For there
is a theorem due to Arthur Cayley that says that every finite group is isomorphic to a
subgroup of a group of permutations - the symmetric group.

We prove that G is isomorphic to a subgroup of the group of permutations of itself, Sym(G).
Given an element g ∈ G, we identify g with the function G → G sending an element h ∈ G to
g*h. We need to show that this function is a bijective and therefore a permutation. Suppose
g*x = g*y. Then multiplying on the left by g-1, we see that x = y, so the function is injective.
To show that is is surjective, let y ∈ G, then the function sends g-1*y to g*g-1*y = y.
Therefore the function is surjective and a transposition.
We must show that each element g defines a different permutation. To see this, suppose
that g*x = g'*x. Then multiplying by x-1 on the right, we see that g = g'.
Finally, we must show that our map G → Sym(G) respects group structure. This is left as an
exercise for the reader.


What if we have an isomorphism existing from a group (G, *) to (G, *) - in essence a
isomorphism between a group and itself? When we can create such a isomorphism, we term
it an automorphism.
A specific type of automorphism is an inner automorphism, which conjugates all the
elements, meaning that it is an automorphism of the form f:G->G given by f(h)=ghg-1. If an
automorphism is not an inner automorphism, then we call it an outer automorphism.

An example
In Z3 we interchange 1 and 2.
In this group "0" is different, but "1" and "2" are essentially the same: adding one of them to
itself gives the other one, adding both give 0, adding 0 to any element gives (of course) the
same. Thus interchanging 1 and 2 in the multiplication table gives the same table. We can
think of "1", and "2" being different labels for two things which are the same - the
automorphism swaps the two labels. If we had a multiplication (addition) table for this
group, but with the elements labeled a, b, and c, we could recognize which one is the
identity element, but we could not distinguish the other two.

+ 0 1 2

0 0 1 2

1 1 2 0

2 2 0 1

+ a b c

a a b c

b b c a
Abstract algebra/Groups 16

c c a b

+ a c b

a a c b

c c b a

b b a c

Notice that Zabc = Zacb. For example, b + c = a in both groups.

The following consist of some unsorted definitions

A simple group is a group with no proper normal subgroups. The automorphism group of a
group is the group of all bijective transformations preserving the group structure. If we
have a surjective homomorphism f:G->K with H as its kernel and a homomorphism g:K->G
such that fg:K->K is the identity homomorphism, then we say G is (isomorphic to) a
semidirect product of H and K. The center of the group is the subgroup which commutes
with all the other elements of the group.

Problem set
1. Prove that the center of a group is always a subgroup.
2. Prove that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the conjugacy classes of the
permutation group Sn and the partitions of n.

Isomorphism Theorems
Factor Theorem Let G be a group, and let N be a normal subgroup. Let f be a
homomorphism from G to H with a kernel K that contains N. Let g be the homomorphism
from G to the quotient space G/N where g(a)=gN i. e. the map from an element to the coset
containing it. Then there exists a homomorphism f' from G/N to H such that f'(g(a))=f(a) for
all elements of G. This f' will be an epimorphism only when f itself is an epimorphism, and it
will be a monomorphism only when the kernel K does not contain any elements other than
N i. e. K=N.
Proof In order for f'(g(a)) to be the same as f(a), f'(aN) must be f(a) indicating that f' is
unique. This function is well-defined, for suppose that a and b belong to the same coset.
Then belongs on N, so it belongs on K, indicating that f( )=f(a)f( )=1
indicating that f(a)=f(b).
To check that this function is a homomorphism,
f'(aNbN)=f'((ab)N)=f(ab)=f(a)f(b)=f'(aN)f'(bN), so it is a homomorphism.
Now, obviously the image of f' is the same as the image of f, f' is an epimorphism when f is
an epimorphism. Now suppose that the kernel K=N, and that f'(aN)=f'(bN). Then f(a)=f(b),
so f( )=1, so is within the kernel, and is thus within N. This indicates that a and
b belong to the same coset, and aN and bN are thus the same cosets.
Note that a result of this theorem is that when f is an epimorphism and K=N, then f' is an
The following is an immediate result:
Abstract algebra/Groups 17

First Isomorphism Theorem

Let f be a homomorphism from G to H with kernel K. Then the image of f is isomorphic to
Proof Using the factor theorem above, with the subgroup being the same as the kernel, and
with the homomorphism being an epimorphism over its image, G/K must have an
isomorphism to H.
Now let N be a normal subgroup, and let H be any subgroup. We have here the useful

1. HN=NH, so HN is a subgroup of G.
2. N is a normal subgroup of HN
3. The intersection of H and N is a normal subgroup of H.
1. hN=Nh for every h within H.
2. aN=Na for any a within G, so aN=Na for any a within HN.
3. Since N is a normal subgroup, hN=Nh for any h within H. Since H∩N is entirely within
H, letting h be an element of h, h(H∩N) is entirely within H, and is a subset of hN, and is,
in fact, the intersection H∩(hN) since it essentially contains all elements of H within the
coset hN, and cannot possibly contain any other elements. Similarly (H∩N)h is also a
subset of Nh, H∩(Nh). Since hN=Nh, h(H∩N)=(H∩N)h.

Second Isomorphism Theorem

Let G be a group, and let H be a subgroup of G, and let N be a normal subgroup of G. Then
H/(H∩N) is isomorphic to (HN)/N.
Proof Let f be a function from G to G/N, such that f(a)=aN. Now we restrict the domain of
the function to only points within H. Then this function is a function from H to G/N, with
H∩N as its kernel. Thus, H/(H∩N) is isomorphic to the image of this restricted function,
which is essentially all aN such that a is within H. This is simply (NH)/N because NH
contains all the possible cosets hN with h within H, so that the quotient group is simply all
hN with h in H.

Third Isomorphism Theorem

Let G be a group, let N be a normal subgroup of G, and let H be a normal subgroup of G
contained in N. Then G/N is isomorphic to (G/H)/(N/H).

Proof Define the function to be f(aN)=aH. If aN=bN, then they belong

to the same coset of N, and since N is a subgroup of H, thus belong to the same coset of H,
and so it is well-defined. It is obvious that this is an epimorphism. The kernel is all the
elements that map onto H, and is thus all the cosets of N that are within H, essentially
meaning H/N. Therefore, by the first isomorphism theorem, G/N is isomorphic to
Abstract algebra/Groups 18

Correspondence Theorem
The main result of the isomorphism theorems is actually called the factor theorem. Let N be
any normal subgroup of G, and let H be any subgroup of G containing N. It is quite obvious
that N is a normal subgroup of H. Define the function f(A)=A/N mapping the set of
subgroups of G containing N to the subgroups of G/N. This is a one-to-one correspondence.
Moreover, is a subgroup of if and only if is a subgroup of , and the
number of cosets is the same in both cases. In addition, H is a normal subgroup of G if and
only if H/N is a normal subgroup of G/N, and is a normal subgroup of if and only if
is a normal subgroup of .
Proof Given the fact that this is one-to-one, we can also form the inverse of f by using
, which is also a one-to-one function. Thus, f is a bijection. It is also quite
obvious that when is a subgroup of , that is a subgroup of .
Conversely, when is a subgroup of , the application of the inverse of f also
makes it obvious that is a subgroup contained within , automatically making a
subgroup of . We prove that the number of cosets in both cases is the same by defining
the bijection which is well-defined because if then they
belong to the same coset of , they also belong to the same coset of . Now
suppose that H is a normal subgroup of G. Then
indicating that H/N is a normal subgroup of G/N. Now let H/N be a normal subgroup of G/N.
Now consider the function which is obviously a homomorphism. The
kernel of this is all elements which map onto H/N, and is thus all cosets of N which map
onto an element of H. Thus, H is the kernel of this, and so is a normal subgroup of G. Now
suppose that is a normal subgroup of . Then if we consider N as a normal subgroup
of , then we immediately get the result that whenever is normal in , that
is normal in from what we had already proven. Conversely just use the third
isomorphism theorem to prove the converse.

Group actions
Before we go on with the technical details, let's examine one of the uses of groups. The
description of symmetries (i.e. structure preserving automorphisms) acting upon a
structure with an underlying set-theoretic structure can usually be done with a concept
known as a group action. It basically tells us how any particular symmetry acts as a
transformation upon a set. We have seen a lot of this use of groups.



Given a group and an element in , it's easily seen that the mapping
defined by is an automorphism of , so each element in gives rise to an
automorphism. Different elements may give rise to the same automorphisms. For example,
if is abelian, then all such automorphisms are identity map. In this sense we say the
group acts on the set : for any in the set , the group acts on it by sending
to .
Abstract algebra/Groups 19


Given a group and a set ,a -action on is a homomorphism from into the

permutation group of . Recall that permutations on forms a group with composition
of mappings as the group operation, so is a homomorphism implies, first of all, the
identity in maps to the identity permutations, and secondly, given and in and
in , ; that is, the product of two elements in has the same effect as
the action of each element applied in turn.

Orbit, stablizer and the class equation

Having a group acting on a set makes it natural to ask, given an element of the set, how
does the group affect this single element? What places does the group send it to? This is
called the orbit of the element. Given an element of , the orbit of , denoted by ,
is the set of points for all in .

Exercise: An orbit is an equivalence class; that is, for any , in , the relation defined
by iff such that is an equivalence relation.
It is possible that two element of , whose permutations on are different, send to
the same place. So how to find the number of possible different destinations of , the
order of ? Instead of applying every element in on to see if they works differently,
we look for the other extreme, elements in that do not move .
For any in , the stablizer of , denoted by , is the set of elements of that
leaves fixed. It can be checked that is a subgroup in . Consider the left cosets of
. Any element in a left coset can be written as the product for some in
. The action of on then becomes . On the other hand,
given an element in that has the same effect on as , we have so
. This implies belongs to , and , must belong to the same left
coset of .
We have proved the following

Theorem: is a group acting on the set . Given , the left cosets of

correspond 1-1 to the orbit of .

Since is a subgroup of , number of cosets equals to . Since the orbits are

equivalent classes dividing the set , we have the following

Theorem (class equation): while the element is taken from each

equivalent class.
If the stabilizer of every element of is the trivial subgroup, then the -action is said to
act freely.

Problem set
1. Prove that any G-action on X partitions X into disjoint orbits. (Incidentally, this explains
why if H is a subgroup of G, H partitions G into cosets. There is a canonical left H-action
on G.)
2. Prove that the action of G upon any orbit is also a G-action.
3. Prove that the stabilizer is always a subgroup.
Abstract algebra/Groups 20

If the G-action on X only contains one orbit, then it's said to be transitive. If ρ is injective,
then the G-action is said to be faithful.
Cayley's theorem: Every group G has a G-action which is transitive and acts freely (these
two properties together is called simply transitive). Moreover, this G-action is unique up to
Corollary: Every group G is isomorphic to a subgroup of a permutation group (which is not
necessarily finite).
Theorem: The orbit of any element x of X is isomorphic to the G-action on G/Stab(x) where
Stab(x) is the stabilizer of x.
Even so, when speaking about exponentiation, we need to consider this above notation.
When speaking of groups in general, bc means b× b×b×..., b multiplied by itself c times.
However, in a group under addition, we still write bc, but this means b+b+b' '...=cb. This
can be confusing the first time you see an expression like or . -->

Direct Product

Source: http:/ / en. wikibooks. org/ w/ index. php? title=Abstract_ algebra/ Groups
Principal Authors: Dysprosia, Mjeff, Thebhgg, Pm5, Patrick, The Scarlet Letter, Isomorphic,
MikeBorkowski, Jguk, F1sdz
License 21

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at least the title, year, new authors, and publisher of the Modified Version as given on the
Title Page. If there is no section Entitled "History" in the Document, create one stating
the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on its Title Page, then
add an item describing the Modified Version as stated in the previous sentence.
• J. Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a
Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the
Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the "History"
section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four
years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to
gives permission.
• K. For any section Entitled "Acknowledgements" or "Dedications", Preserve the Title of
the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the
contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
• L. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their
titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
• M. Delete any section Entitled "Endorsements". Such a section may not be included in
the Modified Version.
• N. Do not retitle any existing section to be Entitled "Endorsements" or to conflict in title
with any Invariant Section.
• O. Preserve any Warranty Disclaimers.
If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as
Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your
option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the
list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version's license notice. These titles must be
distinct from any other section titles.
You may add a section Entitled "Endorsements", provided it contains nothing but
endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties--for example, statements of peer
review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition
of a standard.
You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25
words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version.
License 25

Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or
through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover
text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same
entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old
one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.
The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to
use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.

You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under
the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the
combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and
list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you
preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.
The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical
Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant
Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section
unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or
publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to
the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.
In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled "History" in the various original
documents, forming one section Entitled "History"; likewise combine any sections Entitled
"Acknowledgements", and any sections Entitled "Dedications". You must delete all sections
Entitled "Endorsements."

You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under
this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with
a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this
License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.
You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually
under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document,
and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent
documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an
"aggregate" if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal
rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. When the
Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the
aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.
If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document,
then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover
Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the
electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must
License 26

appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.

Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the
Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations
requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations
of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant
Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the
Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original
English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In
case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a
notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.
If a section in the Document is Entitled "Acknowledgements", "Dedications", or "History",
the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing
the actual title.

You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly
provided for under this License. Any other attempt to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute
the Document is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not
have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.


The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free
Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the
present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http:/
/ www. gnu. org/ copyleft/ .
Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document
specifies that a particular numbered version of this License "or any later version" applies to
it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version
or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software
Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may
choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation.

How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the
document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:
Copyright (c) YEAR YOUR NAME. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify
this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any
later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section
entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".
License 27

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the
"with...Texts." line with this:
with the Invariant Sections being LIST THEIR TITLES, with the Front-Cover Texts being
LIST, and with the Back-Cover Texts being LIST.
If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three,
merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.
If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing
these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU
General Public License, to permit their use in free software.